More than 60% of freight forwarders experienced business slowdowns in the second quarter (April-June), according to a survey conducted earlier this month by Container xChange, a German technology company running an online platform for selling, buying and leasing containers. Container prices continue to fall globally, causing concern over the coming peak season in the third quarter (July-September).

Container xChange asked freight forwarders whether their business operations slowed in April-June as compared to the previous three months. Around 65% said they were negatively hit in the second quarter, while 19% replied they remained unchanged. Only 16% claimed they performed better. As for future expectations, 64% expressed hope for business improvements, 15% were uncertain and 21% were downbeat. Asked how consumer demand changed in June, 47% said there was a decline, 28% saw growth and 25 felt it was unchanged.

In addition, the survey highlighted a concerning trend in container prices. June 2023 marked the lowest average container prices in key supply chain markets such as China, Europe and the U.S. when compared to the same month in 2022 and 2021. In the second quarter, container prices continued to fall in most regions. There were no signs of recovery in the U.S. or China.

As the world looks up to the U.S. for consumer demand, amidst rising prices, inflation and wage wars, the average container prices indicate no sign of revival. This, in turn, leads Container xChange to think that demand for cargo or the need to reposition empties back to Asia is no longer pressing in that region. The average container prices have been freefalling and there are no signs of revival as we approach the busiest period in the shipping industry. “It is quite evident that the peak season is almost invisible.” Said Christian Roeloffs, co-founder and CEO of Container xChange. Container xChange expects demand to increase in the third quarter, but considerably low as compared to those of the last three years. Retailers are not looking to restock considerably as the inventory destocking has been delayed due to recessionary consumer behavior.




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